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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 01:07 GMT 02:07 UK
Marriage makes both sexes happy
Marriage benefits both sexes, say researchers
Both men and women are happier if they are married, a study suggests.

Researchers in Australia have found that contrary to popular belief both sexes benefit from marriage.

It has long been believed that men benefit more from tying the knot than women.


There was potential in the 1970s for women to become more stressed

Alex Gardner
Psychologist
Studies carried out in the 1970s, which are still widely supported now, suggested that marriage increased stress levels among women and effectively "drove them crazy".

But psychologist Dr David de Vaus from La Trobe University in Melbourne says his study debunks that theory.

He looked at data from 10,641 adults taken from the 1996 national survey of mental health in Australia.

He found that married men and women suffered the same levels of stress, with one in eight reporting symptoms.

Alcohol abuse

He also found that one in four men and women were miserable when single.

The study also revealed that married women with children were the least likely to suffer mental health problems.

Dr de Vaus said his study took account of the fact that mental health problems in men can show up through alcohol and drug abuse.

He said studies carried out in the 1970s had failed to take this into account and as a result the findings had been skewed 'in favour' of women.

The findings back up recent studies in the United States which have suggested that marriage benefits both sexes.

Psychologists are now debating whether the 1970's theory has always been flawed or whether women have become happier within marriage over the past 30 years.

Changing times

Alex Gardner, a psychologist in Glasgow, said changes in the role of women may explain why they are not as stressed as they were in the 1970s.

"There was potential in the 1970s for women to become more stressed," he told BBC News Online.

"There was a changing social morality and greater opportunity for people to go off and have extra-marital affairs, for instance. The traditional role of women as nest builder could then be challenged.

"Today women have greater equality with men and the situation has changed."

See also:

15 Aug 02 | Health
15 Feb 02 | Health
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